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Q&A: June 6, 2019 Edition

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Q. I have two old Snap-On timing lights, Models MT-212 and 215. The last time I sent them off for repair, Snap-On said there are no parts available. Does anyone know where I can have these repaired? I know they are old.
— Johnny Hackney, New Bern, N.C.

A. You don’t say what parts you need for your timing lights. Clamps and cables are pretty generic, and the circuitry in those units, which apparently date from the 1960s, is pretty basic. Used units appear on eBay for $50-85; some people buy non-working units for parts. The world of electronics has a similar following to ours in the old car hobby. My daughter was given an old tube-type hi-fi amplifier. She found an amateur radio club in her town and with the help of some of its members, soon had it working again.

Q. A friend gave me [an] old clock I have never seen before. Please tell me how rare it is, what it came out of and what it’s worth. I looked on my tablet, but have never seen one with a biplane on it. All I did to get it to work was remove three screws on the back, take it out of its cup and spray WD40 on the gears and it started working. It is still running and keeping time three days later. I will keep it forever.
— Ron Patyski, Valier, Ill.

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A. Your photo is too dark to reproduce, so thank you for including a drawing with all the pertinent details. It shows us that it was made by the Keyless Auto Clock Company, No. 1250, and is a rim-wind eight-day clock. The face has an image of a biplane. The back shows patent dates from 1907 to 1915, so it must date from 1915 or later. Most likely it was an aftermarket accessory, although it could have been installed on a car when new.

Rim-wind clocks dispense with a key or stem, and wind by rotating the bezel. As a result, the clock does not mount flush with a dashboard but protrudes about a quarter inch, so that one can grasp the bezel. Winding is typically done by rotating the bezel back and forth. To set it, you pull the bezel out and move in the direction you wish to set the time.

There are plenty of them available on the internet in the range of $100 to $150, but I don’t see any with that biplane motif.

WD40 is not the ideal lubricant for clocks. It is basically a solvent, originally developed to displace water (WD = water displacement). It is good on wet wiring and for freeing stuck or stubborn moving parts. However, it does not lubricate well and leaves a residue that accumulates dirt and grime. There are cleaning fluids specially formulated for old clocks. The formula varies for particular ages of clocks in order to get maximum cleansing without damaging the clock movement. Choose one suitable for the early 20th century. Then lubricate the bearing surfaces with light oil. Various oils have been used over the years. Although 3-in-1 will work, the experts now seem to prefer synthetics.

Q. I was a Cadillac parts manager in the 1970s and ’80s. I participated in the Cadillac Craftsman League. I would like help identifying these lock knobs.
— M. Benner, via email

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A. Our expert for these items is editor Angelo Van Bogart. He tells us: “The door lock knobs are from a 1958 Cadillac with power door locks; Cadillac was the only GM division to offer power door locks (they were standard on the Eldorado Brougham and an option on all other Cadillac models). The lightning bolt on top of the knob told passengers that the Cadillac owner sprung the extra cash for the new [electric] power door locks.”

To submit questions to this column: E-mail or mail to: Q&A, Old Cars Weekly,5225 Joerns Drive, Suite 2, Stevens Point, WI 54481.

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